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Orange Cranberry Sauce

4.9 stars (14 ratings)

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Sweet, tart, and tangy, orange cranberry sauce is the gourmet touch your Thanksgiving table is missing. It takes less than 30 minutes of active time and tastes best when made in advance, so don’t put it off. It’s time to ditch the can and make your own homemade cranberry sauce from scratch.

Quick orange cranberry sauce in a ramekin next to fresh cranberries, oranges, and limes.

Originally appearing on the blog in November 2016, the post was updated for clarity in November 2019.

Here in the US the countdown to Thanksgiving is quickly winding down. While I should be in my kitchen getting ready, I had to share my recipe for quick orange cranberry sauce. It’s sweet, and tart, with just the right amount of tangy goodness.

With just 4 ingredients it comes together in less than 30 minutes. In order to properly set, it should be chilled a minimum of 2 hours prior to serving. It will stay fresh in the fridge for a few weeks, so you can also make it in advance.

This sauce is so incredibly simple, it will make you wonder why you have been eating jellied cranberry sauce from a can all these years.

Orange cranberry sauce in a glass jar.

What kitchen tools do I need to make homemade cranberry sauce?

For this recipe you are going to need a one cup liquid measuring cup, a tablespoon measuring spoon, a 2-quart sauce pan, a large spoon or spatula for stirring, and a lidded container for storage.

This recipe as written makes 3 cups, but can be sized up or down based on your number of guests. While my Thanksgiving guest list is only 4 people this year, I know I’ll use the leftovers as jam all season long.

Ingredients for Orange Cranberry Sauce

With this orange cranberry sauce recipe you are only four ingredients away from a gourmet, homemade cranberry sauce. Like always, when a recipe just has a few ingredients, use the best ingredients you can find.

The Cranberries

Around the holidays it easy to find fresh cranberries in the produce department. The rest of the year, it’s next to impossible. If you found this recipe in November or December, by all means use fresh cranberries for this recipe.

If not, frozen will work just as well. If you opt for frozen, allow them to thaw for about 20 minutes at room temperature prior to use. Or not. They will defrost quickly as they cook, but the whole process will take a couple extra minutes.

Fresh squeezed orange juice in a one cup measuring cup, next to cranberries in a saucepan and a citrus juicer.

Maple Syrup

One of my favorite maple syrups to use in this recipe is a smoked bourbon barrel maple syrup. The little kick of smokey flavor with the hint of vanilla and oak really takes this recipe up a notch. Is it worth a trip to the store if I polished off the last bottle with some vanilla french toast last weekend? No, probably not.

If you have real maple syrup on hand, it will taste great in this recipe. If you don’t, use what you have. You can swap in honey or even make a homemade simple syrup using 1 part water to 1 part plain white sugar.

Orange Juice and Lime Juice

In my kitchen I like to use fresh orange juice and fresh lime juice. I was spoiled by having citrus trees in my backyard when we lived in Napa. If you don’t have fresh, using the stuff out of a bottle will work, but I personally would go to the store for fresh citrus before I would go to the store for fancy maple syrup.

If you are going to juice the oranges fresh, and you should, I highly recommend using clementines (the little oranges that are easy to peel) over the larger naval oranges. It took me 6 1/2 clementines and 1/2 of a lime to get the right amount of juice, but this will vary based on the ripeness of your fruit.

Cranberries boiling in orange juice, lime juice, and maple syrup.

How to make Orange Cranberry Sauce

Start by dumping the cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, and lime juice into your pan. Yep, all four ingredients go in at once. Put the pan on a medium high flame and give it a chance to come to a boil. If you hear cranberries popping, don’t be alarmed – that is what they are supposed to do.

Once the sauce comes to a boil it’s going to foam up, as you can see in the picture above. Drop the heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally, using the back of the spoon to mash the cranberries as they soften.

As the berries break up and the sauce cooks down three noticeable things will happen. First the foam will subside, the the mixture will noticeably thicken and the ruby red color will become more uniform. When the sauce easily coats the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool 30 minutes. Carefully pour the still warm mixture into your lidded storage container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Tips for making orange cranberry sauce

  • The 20 minute time frame for cooking is an estimate. Instead of watching the clock, watch for the sauce to thicken.
  • Orange cranberry sauce does not need any additional thickeners because cranberries are full of naturally occurring pectin.
  • Pectin causes cranberry sauce and other jams, like my blueberry jam, to thicken when combined with sugar and acid.
  • The sugar is necessary in order to get the sauce to thicken. For best results, don’t omit or reduce it.
  • For a cranberry sauce that is super thick like the stuff in the can, chill this sauce for 6 – 8 hours prior to serving. The recommend 2 hours results in a sauce that is more spreadable.
Quick orange cranberry sauce in a remekin next to fresh cranberries, oranges, and limes.

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Orange Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This sauce pairs perfectly with your turkey dinner, but I also like it on hot buttered crumpets or on a leftover turkey sandwich. The way you enjoy your quick orange cranberry sauce is up to you!

Looking for more delicious sides to round out your Thanksgiving dinner? Check out my oven roasted root vegetables, brown butter garlic mashed potatoes, and butterscotch apple crisp, or see all of my Thanksgiving recipes.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE-STAR rating and share it on your favorite social channel!

Quick orange cranberry sauce in a ramekin next to fresh cranberries, oranges, and limes.

Quick Orange Cranberry Sauce

Orange cranberry sauce is the gourmet touch your Thanksgiving table is missing. It's time to ditch the can and make your own cranberry sauce from scratch in less than 30 minutes.
4.9 stars (14 ratings)
prep: 5 minutes
cook: 20 minutes
total: 25 minutes
servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Instructions

  • Dumping the cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, and lime juice into a 2 quart sauce pan.
  • Put the pan on a medium high flame and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the sauce comes to a boil, drop the heat to a low to medium low setting and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally, using the back of the spoon to help gently break up the cranberries. As the berries break up and the sauce cooks down, the ruby red color will become more uniform and the the mixture will noticeably thicken.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool 30 minutes.
  • Carefully pour the still warm mixture into your lidded storage container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

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Nutrition

Serving: 2TBSPCalories: 192kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 1gSodium: 8mgFiber: 2gSugar: 40g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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15 Comments on “Orange Cranberry Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    Love the tangy flavor of this orange cranberry sauce! Also, thanks for the pro tips on how to make it! That sure helped me not overcook it and spoil the flavors. I actually used it for my muffin filling and it was a hit. I haven’t tried it with turkey yet though but I will this Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I just whipped up a batch of this Orange Cranberry Sauce for my Thanksgiving spread, and it’s a game-changer! The combination of sweet, tart cranberries with a hint of citrusy goodness from fresh orange and lime juice is simply delightful. Yaay! Thanks for this recipe!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I prepared this yesterday and love the flavor! Sooo much better than the canned stuff. And I love that it’s maple-sweetened. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    I was looking for a cranberry sauce recipe to do and this was perfect! I didn’t know that you could combine orange with it, and so, following your recipe, the output of what I’ve made came out really goood, so delicious! Btw, I also used smoked bourbon barrel maple syrup, so it tastes really good. Thanks for your recipe 🙂

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    It’s my first time to know that Pectin, when combined with sugar and acid, causes cranberry sauce and other jams to thicken! Well, anyway, thanks for your recipe, the output of what I’ve made came out great — just the right sweetness and tanginess, and really delicious 🙂

    Reply

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